Experts: American Adversaries Work Together Despite Differences

Fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) / Reuters

Fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) / Reuters

BY: :

American adversaries in the Middle East continue to work together across sectarian and religious divides to harm U.S. interests and security, requiring a more nuanced response from U.S. officials to address the turmoil in the region, experts say.

The Obama administration has claimed in recent weeks that the United States and Iran—a traditional U.S. enemy since its Islamic revolution 35 years ago—have a shared interest in pushing back the advances of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), an al Qaeda offshoot, in Iraq. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last month that the United States and Iran have “some history here of sharing common interests,” citing early cooperation on the Afghanistan war against al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Iran, led by a Shiite government, is typically viewed as opposing hardline Sunni groups such as the Taliban and al Qaeda as part of an intra-religious dispute among Muslims.

However, Iran has a long history of harboring and supporting al Qaeda. European intelligence reports indicate that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, founder of the group al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) that eventually morphed into ISIL, operated from Iran after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Zarqawi used protection from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to rebuild the terrorist group’s network and prepare for its expansion into Iraq.

The U.S. Treasury Department has called Iran “a critical transit point for funding to support al Qaeda’s activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” The department in February sanctioned three IRGC officers for allegedly providing support to the Taliban as well as to a senior member of al Qaeda who allegedly used Iran to move Sunni fighters into Syria.

“Iran has a long history of fomenting violent conflict and inflaming sectarian divides throughout the Middle East including in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq,” said the group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) in recent press release.

“Depictions of Iran as a source of stability are therefore erroneous and short-sighted, as are assertions that increased Iranian involvement in Iraq will serve American and Iraqi interests,” UANI added.

Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and a former Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq for the George W. Bush administration, said in an email that U.S. diplomats often only view the Middle East through “a sectarian lens.”

“Sunnis and Shi’ites show no compunction working together to screw over America, which their respective extremists consider a bigger threat,” he said. “Heck, sometimes it seems that the State Department never bothered to read the 9/11 report which suggested that the attacks might not have happened had Iran not facilitated the travel to training camps of the 9/11 hijackers.”

“Sure, at first glance, Secretary of State John Kerry may believe that the U.S. and Iran share an interest in Iraq,” he added. “But just because firefighters and arsonists share an interest in fire doesn’t mean they are on the same side.”

In Iraq, ISIL partnered last month with former Baathist generals under Saddam Hussein’s regime to seize the key northern city of Mosul. Religious extremist groups such as al Qaeda have traditionally sought to overthrow secular Middle East regimes such as Hussein’s Baathists.

Top U.S. officials have recently expressed grave concerns about the potential for foreign fighters in ISIL to commit terrorist attacks in the United States.

The secular-religious rift in the Middle East also did not stop Hussein from supporting jihadist groups when it suited the former Iraqi dictator’s interests. Hussein reportedly provided safe haven, training, and arms to these groups as long as they agreed to attack countries he wanted to pressure.

Hundreds of thousands of documents obtained in Iraq since 2003, compiled in a report by the Institute for Defense Analyses, further confirmed Hussein’s links to terrorist groups.

Read more at Free Beacon

Iranians Flying Russian Planes in Covert Ops in Iraq

Memebers of Iran's Basij, a paramilitary group under the auspices of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. (Photo: © Reuters)

Memebers of Iran’s Basij, a paramilitary group under the auspices of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. (Photo: © Reuters)

BY RYAN MAURO:

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an opposition group dedicated to replacing the Iranian regime with a secular democracy, has provided the Clarion Project with intelligence from its sources inside the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps about its covert operations in Iraq.

The Iranian regime has deployed the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to Iraq to try to stabilize the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Key meetings were held with radical Shiite militia leaders on July 4-5 to plan offensives against the Islamic State (formerly ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) and its Sunni allies.

“The clerical regime [of Iran] is extremely worried about their regional strategy and all of their investment in Maliki is on the verge of collapse, and thus, it is sparing no effort or expense in its attempt to keep Maliki in power,” a spokesperson for NCRI told Clarion Project.

The U.S. government has sent about 750 troops to Iraq to help protect the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and to advise the Iraqi security forces battling the Islamic State. The U.S. is considering airstrikes against the terrorist group because of its direct threats to the West.

NCRI says that the Iranian operatives are flying Sukhoi fighter jets given to Iraq and that helicopters and drones were also transferred to them. Russia has also provided fighter jets and reportedly even pilots. The Syrian regime has also dispatched pilots to Iraq, the organization claims.

Read more at Clarion Project

Obama’s Secret Directive Supporting Global Islamism

by Raymond Ibrahim:

recent Gulf News report sheds some light on how and why the United States helped bring the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies to power, followed by all the subsequent chaos and atrocities in the Mideast region.

Large portions of the report follow with my commentary interspersed for added context:

Dubai: For the past decade, two successive US administrations have maintained close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Libya, to name just the most prominent cases.

The Obama administration conducted an assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2010 and 2011, beginning even before the events known as the “Arab Spring” erupted in Tunisia and in Egypt. The President personally issued Presidential Study Directive 11 (PSD-11) in 2010, ordering an assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood and other “political Islamist” movements, including the ruling AKP in Turkey, ultimately concluding that the United States should shift from its longstanding policy of supporting “stability” in the Middle East and North Africa (that is, support for “stable regimes” even if they were authoritarian), to a policy of backing “moderate” Islamic political movements (emphasis in bold added throughout).

And we have certainly witnessed this shift.  Chaos and the Islamic ascendancy in the Middle East and North Africa never flourished as under the Obama administration—and precisely because the administration shifted from supporting stability under secular-minded autocrats.

The most significant example of this is how the Obama administration threw Hosni Mubarak—a U.S. ally for three decades—under the bus in order to support the Islamists, most specifically the Muslim Brotherhood.  And we saw how that ended—with another revolution, hailed as the largest revolution in human history, with the average Egyptian accusing Obama of being a terrorist supporter.

To this day, PSD-11 remains classified, in part because it reveals an embarrassingly naïve and uninformed view of trends in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.

“Embarrassingly naïve and uninformed view” is synonymous with the “orthodox and mainstream view pushed forth by Mideast studies professors and academics,” especially those with political influence, such as the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies of Georgetown University, in Washington D.C.  Such programs, which I’m only too well acquainted with, begin with false—that is, “embarrassingly naïve and uninformed”—premises, namely: that the source of all the region’s woes are (formerly) U.S.-propped autocrats (reality is that dictators don’t create such societies but rather are the natural outcome of Islamic societies and are the ones most prone to keeping law and order—compare Iraq under Saddam and Iraq now, as a “democracy,” with “ISIS” proclaiming a caliphate).

Mideast academics have also long spearheaded the idea that there are “moderate” Islamists and “radical” Islamists, and that the U.S. should work with the former (in reality they are all radical—to be an Islamist is to be radical—the only difference is that the “moderate” Islamists don’t wear their radicalism on their sleeves, even as they work toward the same goals that the more open “radicals” work for, namely, a Sharia-enforcing caliphate).

The revelations were made by Al Hewar centre in Washington, DC, which obtained the documents in question.

This too is significant. As Daniel Greenfield writes: “Al-Hewar, which actually got hold of the documents, is linked to the International Institute of Islamic Thought… which is a Muslim Brotherhood front group.  Figures in the Muslim Brotherhood had threatened to leak understandings with Obama Inc. This is the next best thing. It warns Obama that if he tries to forget about them, they can prove that the relationship was official policy.”

To be sure, after the ousting of the Brotherhood in Egypt, several Brotherhood members made, sometimes not so veiled, threats to expose the Obama administration if it turned its back on them, including top ranking Brotherhood member, Khairat al-Shatter’s son.

Read more

Clare Lopez on CenterVision: Dead Jewish Kids and the Islamic Caliphate

ClarePublished on Jul 2, 2014 by J. Mark Campbell:

This week’s edition of CenterVision, hosted by J. Mark Campbell presents Clare Lopez, VP of Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy briefs our viewers on the insane murder of the three Jewish teenagers and the development of the new Islamic “Caliphate.” Do not miss Clare’s insight and conclusions.

 

 

Expressions Of Solidarity With ISIS In The West

from MEMRI’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM) June 30, 2014:

In April 2013, a rift was created in the global jihadi movement when the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) announced that it was expanding into Syria and that it was changing its name to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Following this announcement, another jihadi organization in Syria, Jabhat Al-Nusra (JN), rejected ISIS’s authority, remaining loyal to Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri. ISIS even challenged Al-Zawahiri himself, refusing to follow his instructions to restrict itself to operating in Iraq. In early 2014, the rift escalated to violent conflict – ISIS versus JN and other jihadi organizations in bothIraq and Syria.

Having taken control of large areas of Iraq in recent months, ISIS is now enjoying increasing shows of solidarity from the Middle East and from across the Muslim world – and also from Western countries. Several factors contribute to its popularity, among them its jihad against the Americans in Iraq prior to its expansion into Syria, when it was ISI; its current struggle against Iraq’s Shi’ite government and its security forces – perceived as apparatuses for Shi’ite suppression of Sunnis; and its war against the Alawi Assad regime, which is an ally of the Shi’ites. ISIS’s activity on these fronts has helped bolster its image as the spearhead in the war against the enemies of Islam within and without the Muslim world, and raised its stature among supporters of global jihad.

Further adding to its popularity are ISIS’s achievements on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria, and its image as the only organization today that is actualizing authentic Islamic ideals and striving towards establishing the Islamic idea of a greater caliphate. It casts itself, and its propagandists depict it, as a legitimate sovereign body implementing shari’a law in areas under its control, and spreading Islam by means of jihad, thus forming the core of this future caliphate. Recently, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad Al-‘Adnani even called on Al-Qaeda to swear fealty to his organization, because the “state” it embodies supersedes any organization.[1]

Sympathy for ISIS extends also to its leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who is seen by the organization’s fans as the legitimate leader of all Muslims. This is because of his religious education, his lineage, and his jihadi past. As a challenger to Al-Zawahiri, he is considered more charismatic and more capable of leading the Muslim ummah towards the longed-for caliphate. Thus, under Al-Baghdadi’s leadership, ISIS is emerging as an alternative to Al-Qaeda, and is seen as working diligently to actualize the Muslims’ goals without Al-Qaeda’s religion-based reservations about, for example, imposing the jizya poll tax on Christians or conducting mass killings of Shi’ites.

The persecution of ISIS, even by Al-Qaeda, adds to its status in many circles as an “underdog” fighting for the goals of Islam and the good of all Muslims. Additionally, its highly efficient propaganda apparatus circulates videos and publications via jihadi forums and social media, praising itself and criticizing its rivals and opponents.

Westerners Joining And Promoting ISIS

The Westerners who are leaving their home countries to join ISIS in its fight in Iraq and Syria also add to the organization’s prestige, both inside and outside the Muslim world. These volunteers are widely covered by the media in their own countries, and each new arrival also receives a fanfare in the organization’s local press outlets and social media; these volunteers themselves are usually very active users of social media, communicating with friends and family back home as well as followers and engaging in their own efforts to promote and recruit for the organization in the West.  

Further evidence of its sweeping popularity was the June 19, 2014 “One Billion Muslims Support ISIS” campaign, which urged ISIS sympathizers worldwide to express their support for the organization on  Friday, June 20, and even devised a special Twitter hashtag for the purpose. The campaign elicited considerable response from supporters in numerous participants, who posted images and videos expressing their support for ISIS.[2]

This Western support for ISIS is crucial to the group’s propaganda efforts; in addition to swelling the ranks of its fighters and bringing in funds and logistical support, it increases its prestige and deters its rivals.

Elements Used In Expressions Of Support For ISIS

These expressions of solidarity with ISIS on social and other media use common ISIS symbolism. They include posters of support for it and for Al-Baghdadi; the use of the slogan baqiya wa-tatmaddad, “will remain and spread”;[3] the black tawhid flag, widely used by other global jihad elements; and ISIS nasheeds, or Islamic songs.

Other expressions of solidarity include: photos of ISIS posters next to Western landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Big Ben in London, the Atomium building in Brussels, and the Coliseum in Rome; photos of ISIS posters alongside Western passports; and other images shared on social media. All these add to ISIS’s image of an organization on the rise, and may also indicate its expansionist ambitions.


Tawhid banner used by ISIS


A poster supporting the “One Billion Muslims” campaign (Source: Twitter.com/Minbar_s, June 19, 2014)

This report will present examples of support for ISIS from the West. A future report will present similar examples of support from the Middle East and the Muslim world.[4]

U.S.

At least two contributions to the One Billion Muslims campaign came from the U.S. One was a photo of a drawing of ISIS emblem against the backdrop of the New York City skyline, and the other was a photo of a sign of support for ISIS taken in downtown Chicago.


Source: Twitter.com/truthsMaster, June 20, 2014.


Sign reads: “The soldiers of the #Islamic State in Iraq and Syria will soon pass through here… ” June 20, 2014. Source: Twitter.com/msn291.

Read more at MEMRI

If We Want to Beat Al Qaeda, We Have to Stop Arming It

23by Daniel Greenfield:

Obama’s call for $500 million to arm and train Syrian Jihadist fighters couldn’t have possibly come at a more inappropriate time as Al Qaeda in Iraq menaces both countries.

It wasn’t the Iraq War that made the Al Qaeda affiliate so dangerous. In 2008 it specialized in suicide bombings. It wasn’t marching on Baghdad with an army behind it.

The Arab Spring destabilized the region while money, weapons and recruits poured into Libya and Syria. Obama’s regime change war in Libya led not only to the takeover of entire Libyan cities by Al Qaeda, culminating in the murder of four Americans in Benghazi, but to an Al Qaeda affiliate seizing much of neighboring Mali. Libyan terror training camps also led to an attack on the Amenas gas plant in Algeria.

Three Americans were killed in that attack bringing the US death toll from Obama’s Libyan War up to seven.

But that was last year. This year it’s the Syrian Civil War that turned its local Al Qaeda affiliates into breakout Jihadi stars seizing entire cities and terrorizing the region.

Obama’s solution is to direct money intended for counterterrorism partnerships to terrorists in Syria.

This may be one of the worst ideas that he has ever come up with. Attempts to control the flow of weapons likely played a role in the Benghazi attacks. NATO forces enforcing an arms embargo on Libya had been told to ignore Qatari weapons shipments that were meant for “moderates”.

Instead they went to Al Qaeda.

Obama and Kerry, not to mention Graham and McCain, believe that weapons can be directed to “moderate” Syrian groups and that by arming the “good” terrorists, we’ll stop the “bad” terrorists.

But there are no “good” terrorists. Promises of delivering weapons only to “pre-vetted” groups are worth as much as Obama’s assurances that Al Qaeda was on the run and that ISIS is only a jayvee team.

Kerry met with Ahmad al-Jarba, the President of the Syrian National Coalition. Al-Jarba said that $500 million wouldn’t be enough and demanded more weapons. Meanwhile Al-Jarba was feuding with Ahmad Tohme, the Prime Minister of the SNC’s fictional government. Tohme had attempted to disband the Supreme Military Council over corruption charges while firing the head of the Free Syrian Army.

None of this really matters because the SNC is a puppet regime with many puppet masters and no puppets. The Syrian front men for the Saudis, Qataris, the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey and other factions are constantly firing each other. Their Free Syrian Army is a label stamped on a bunch of Islamist militias, many of whom openly support Al Qaeda.

Four out of five of the FSA’s front commanders had demanded to work with Al Qaeda last year. Parts of the FSA joined the Islamic Front and seized the FSA’s weapons warehouses taking anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons. The FSA fighters fled. Earlier ISIS had seized USAID items intended for the FSA.

After these embarrassments Obama was forced to temporarily suspend aid to the Free Syrian Army.

A senior Al Qaeda terrorist who answered to Ayman Al-Zawahiri was a leading figure in the Islamic Front through Ahrar al Sham, which operated alongside the FSA, until he was killed in an attack by ISIS. Ahrar al Sham had a powerful role in the Supreme Military Council through Deputy Chief of Staff Abdel-basset Tawil.

The FSA, to the extent that it exists, consists of bearded Salafist fighters and commanders in the field and “moderate” leaders in suits in Qatar and Turkey who usually never set foot in Syria. They obtain weapons and money from the West for Jihadists who are much less camera friendly.

Groups such as Liwa al Ummah choose to affiliate with the FSA even while they continue fighting alongside the Al Nusra Front. Experts label some Syrian Jihadist groups as moderate and others as extremist, but the “moderates” and “extremists” fly the black flag of Jihad and fight for an Islamic state.

Pre-vetting the groups means nothing because names like the Free Syrian Army or the Supreme Military Council are only fronts for outside interests. Even the names of the individual militias are often meaningless because new groups and new umbrella groups are constantly being created and dissolved.  Fighters and commanders move from one group to another taking their weapons with them.

Keeping track of the various pseudonyms used by the commanders is already a full time job. It is often impossible to tell whether two Jihadist commanders with the same pseudonym are even the same person. Figuring out the relationship between various groups means depending on intelligence from those groups and various activists on the ground who all have their own alliances and agendas.

No meaningful vetting is possible under these circumstances and supplying weapons to “pre-vetted” groups is as good as supplying them to Al Qaeda. Supplying weapons to pre-vetted groups only  means that it will take longer for those weapons to reach Al Qaeda through barter, alliance or capture.

And even if the weapons don’t end up with Al Qaeda, they will go to Salafist groups that share its goals. The difference is that those have not yet officially declared war on us. That same false sense of security led to the murder of four Americans in Benghazi.

Read more at Front Page

ISIS Declares Caliphate & Demands Loyalty From All Muslims

Screenshot from the Islamic State propaganda video 'Breaking the Borders'

Screenshot from the Islamic State propaganda video ‘Breaking the Borders’

“We took it forcibly at the point of a blade.
We brought it back conquered and compelled.
We established it in defiance of many.
And the people’s necks were violently struck,
With bombings, explosions, and destruction,
And soldiers that do not see hardship as being difficult,”

And lions that are thirsty in battle,
Having greedily drunk the blood of kufr (infidel).

Our khilāfah has indeed returned with certainty” – From the declaration of the Caliphate entitled “This is the Promise of Allah” delivered by the Islamic State spokesman al-Adnani.

On Sunday the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) declared itself a caliphate. It dropped ‘Iraq and Syria from its name and now wishes to be known as the Islamic State. The announcement was made to coincide with the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. They have also changed their flag.

The last caliphate was abolished by the Turks in 1924, bringing an end to the Ottoman Empire, the last of the great empires which ruled the Muslim world. The caliphate that ISIS seeks to recreate, however, is based on the original caliphates of the successors to the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, rather than what they would regard as the weak and corrupted caliphates of later times. The ruler, a caliph, is a religious, political and military position akin to a divinely sanctioned monarchy.

A caliphate is regarded by Sunni Islamic extremists as the only legitimate form of government. Re-establishing it has consistently remained a key goal of groups ranging from the Muslim Brotherhood to Al Qaeda.

Abu Bakr Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State (formerly ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) as the caliph and “the leader of Muslims everywhere.” In declaring himself thus, Baghdadi is attempting to seize legitimacy as the leader of the jihadi movement in particular and the Muslim world in general. He was capitalizing on recent sweeping gains made by the group in its capture of Mosul. He will now take on the name and title “Caliph Ibrahim.

One of the primary duties of the caliph is to wage jihad against the kuffar (infidel). In Islamic terms, only a caliph has the authority to declare jihad, immediately marking the Islamic State, in its own eyes, as the only legitimate jihadi organization.

This puts the new caliphate directly at war with Al Qaeda and potentially at war with other jihadi organizations should they refuse to accept the authority of the new caliphate. Professor Peter Neumann of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization regards the announcement as a “declaration of war against the West and al Qaida.”

Read  more at Clarion Project

 

 

 

Update IV of The Benghazi Brief – “Operation Zero Footprint” – What We Know About The Benghazi Mission, And Subsequent Attack…

benghazi4-e1351495805540By Sundance, June 25, 2014:

UPDATE IV -  In response to the Times of London report, and in a generally dismissed part of her congressional testimony,  Senator Rand Paul asked outgoing Secretary Hillary Clinton a very specific question – (See @2:20 of this video and pay attention to the “duping delight”):

 

Which would bring us to a series of now reconcilable questions surrounding the joint State Dept. and CIA Benghazi Mission.

The entire weapons operation was labeled “Operation Zero Footprint”.  The intent is outlined in the operational title – to leave no visible record of U.S. involvement in arming the Libyan “rebels”.   No visible footprint.

We know from congressional inquiry Ambassador Chris Stevens had asked for more security in the months prior to Sept. 11th 2012.   Requests sent to the State Dept that were denied.

We also know that NO MARINE DETACHMENT was ever put in place to defend the Benghazi Mission.

We also know the Benghazi Mission was initially, and mistakenly by media, called “a consulate”, or a “consulate outpost”.  But there was no State Dept record of any consulate office in Benghazi.

All of these seeming contradictions can be reconciled with the simple understanding that this “Mission” was unofficial.   Remember the goal – No visible footprint.

Why were security requests denied?   Remember the goal – No visible footprint.

We know from General Carter Ham (AFRICOM Commander now retired) the Department of Defense was not even aware the State Dept was operating a mission in Benghazi during 2012.   Remember the goal – No visible footprint.

How could Hillary Clinton, Charlene Lamb, or Patrick Kennedy approve or request a marine security detachment knowing the entire mission around Benghazi was covert?  Such a request would have travelled outside the small group of State/CIA insiders.  The request would have gone to DoD.  Short answer, they couldn’t.

Hence the disconnect between what seemed to be obvious and/or simple questions and the inability to accurately discuss in the public venues of congressional inquiry.

To the public Chris Stevens was a U.S. ambassador, a diplomat.  To the folks inside the State Dept and CIA, Chris Stevens was a U.S. Ambassador, AND a CIA operative coordinating covert arms sales.

Even after death the public face of Chris Stevens, the official role, was able to be discussed.   The covert, or unofficial role, was not.   Again, we see the disconnect between inquiry that could be answered, and inquiry that could not be answered.  Many irreconcilables surface because of this intelligence role – even through today.

The second role of Stevens, the covert and CIA aspect, still causes problems for people trying to understand the “why not” questions.   The broader public asking why have we not seen, or heard from the survivors of the attacks?

The short answer is, we have not – but the intelligence community has.

Twice some of the survivors have given testimony to congress.   The problem for the public is that those hearings are closed door, classified, intelligence hearings – led by Chairman Mike Rogers and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.   Again, go back to the beginning of Operation Zero Footprint and you see the congressional Intelligence Gang of Eight were fully aware of the intents.

Why was Speaker Boehner reluctant to establish a Select Committee on Benghazi ?

Simple, again he is one of the Gang of Eight – and he was briefed of the operation.   How is he going to call for a select committee when he knows the substance of the committee investigation is classified under national security.   Such a committee would not, because it could not, deliver what the public was requesting, sunlight.

The only reason Trey Gowdy was finally assigned the task of a Select Committee, was simply because the public lies of the White House and administration were contradicting themselves.

The White House “talking points”, which is a ridiculous squirrel hunt, were created to reconcile the problem faced when unable to discuss a covert operation.  It is far easier to look at the reality of the problem faced by the White House than any nefarious intention.

Unfortunately for the administration they are not that good.   Team Obama was so committed to keeping the covert operation “Zero Footprint” a secret (because of  the political embarrassment from factually arming al Qaeda) that the cover story they manufactured (on the fly) was fraught with contradictions.

How could President Obama dispatch help to the Benghazi team, when DoD was not even aware of it’s existence?   Sending help would have compromised OpSec, Operational Security.

The dispatch of F.A.S.T. would lead to increased knowledge of a covert operation.

Hopefully you are beginning to see the root of the contradictions.  Once you understand the truth of what was going on within the backstory – there’s almost nothing left which would dangle as an unanswered question.   It all reconciles.

Read more at The Conservative Tree House (scroll down for Update IV)

Herridge: U.S. Missed Major Opportunity to Strike ISIL a Month Ago

 

Washington Free Beacon:

Catherine Herridge, Chief intelligence correspondent for Fox News, revealed that a crucial opportunity to launch airstrikes against ISIL was missed a month ago, according to congressional sources.

Speaking to host Shepard Smith, Herridge said that the opportunity was missed “about a month ago when ISIS was still on the Syrian border and away from the city centers.” She cited warnings that Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Mich.) confirmed today.

Herridge also reported that  Al Qaeda in Yemen now have operatives in Syria and they are working with the official Al Qaeda affiliate there, Al-Nusra Front, to share bombmaking techniques for IEDS as well as sharing operatives. The Pentagon has said that ISIL poses “a legitimate threat to Baghdad.”

(Update Part III): “Operation Zero Footprint” – What We Know About The Benghazi Mission and Subsequent Attack…

benghazi4-e1351495805540By Sundance, June 22, 2014: (Hat tip Allen West)

We now have a pretty good understanding of who, what, where, and why surrounding the 9/11/12 attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi Libya. We are also better positioned to understand why, or perhaps more importantly why not, certain actions were taken before, during, and in the immediate aftermath of the attack itself.

We know from the Bret Baier interview with Hillary Clinton that she was physically located at her 7th floor office in Washington DC on the night of the attack. Unfortunately we also know during the November 2012 Thanksgiving holiday a mysterious fire took place in that building. Well, actually directly above her exact office - cause undetermined.

A “fire” which preceded an unfortunate slip and fall for the Secretary, resulting in a concussion, which led to the discovery of a blood clot, that ultimately delayed her congressional testimony before a Senate Hearing into the events of the night in question.

We know the Libyan uprising began on February 10th of 2011, and we also know that sometime around the end of February 2011 President Obama signed a presidential directive authorizing the State Dept and CIA to begin a covert operation to arm the Libyan “rebels”.

We know the “rebels” were positioned in two strategic places. Benghazi, and the port city of Darnah, both located in Eastern Libya.

We know this covert operation came to be known as “Operation Zero Footprint“, and fell under the military command authority of NATO not (important to repeat), NOT, the U.S. Military.

We know by the time operation “Zero Footprint” began, AFRICOM commander General Carter Ham was removed from OPSEC oversight in the Libyan campaign and NATO commander Admiral James G. Stavridis was in charge.

Stavridis was the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) at the time of the Libyan uprising. He retired as SACEUR in 2013

In 2011, 57-year-old Stavridis was the perfect pick for NATO Libyan intervention considering he is the son of Turkish immigrants. Turkey played a key role in what might be the most politically dangerous aspect of the events to the White House once the goals changed to redirection of the weapons from Operation Zero Footprint.

We know Operation Zero Footprint was the covert transfer of weapons from the U.S to the Libyan “rebels”. We also know the operation avoided the concerns with congressional funding, and potential for public scrutiny, through financing by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

We also know that officials within the government of Qatar served as the intermediaries for the actual transfer of the weapons, thereby removing the footprint of the U.S. intervention.

We know the entire operation was coordinated and controlled by the State Department and CIA. We also know (from the Senate Foreign Relations Benghazi hearings) that “Zero Footprint” was unknown to the 2011 Pentagon and/or DoD commanders who would have been tasked with any military response to the 9/11/12 attack – namely AFRICOM General Carter Ham.

However, it would be implausible to think that then Defense Secretary Bob Gates or Joint Chiefs Chair Admiral McMullen were completely unaware of the operation, this aspect remains murky.

Both Secretary Gates and Joint Chiefs Chair McMullen were in place when Operation Zero Footprint began but retired from their jobs in Sept of 2011, and were replaced by Bob Gates and Martin Dempsey respectively.

Leon Panetta was CIA Director at the beginning of Operation Zero Footprint (March 2011) and was replaced by CIA Director David Petraeus in the fall of 2011 as Panetta replaced Bob Gates and became Secretary of Defense.

However, Panetta (now as Def Sec) and JC Martin Dempsey were the two who initially briefed President Obama on the night of Sept 11th 2012. Leon Panetta definitely had knowledge of the intents of the joint State Dept/Cia mission in Benghazi, Dempsey may not have.

We know the White House appears to have followed “The Intelligence Oversight Act of 1980” in informing the congressional “Gang of Eight” of Zero Footprint.

The Gang of Eight in 2011 would have included: Speaker – John Boehner, Minority Leader – Nancy Pelosi; House Permanent Select Committee on Intel Chairman – Mike Rogers, and his Democrat counterpart Charles Ruppersberger; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid; along with Senate Intel Chair Diane Feinstein and her Republican counterpart, Saxby Chambliss.

From Hillary interviews we also know the White House liaison for Secretary Clinton and CIA Director Leon Panetta during Operation Zero Footprint was National Security Advisor To the President, Tom Donilon.

With this information we can assemble a cast of people “IN THE KNOW” of Operation Zero Footprint on two specific date blocks. March 2011 through Pre 9/11/12 attack – and – Post 9/11/12 attack forward.

Read more at The Conservative Tree House

Is ISIS Iran’s Proxy to achieve Regional Hegemony?

isisBy Jerry Gordon at NER:

Pinhas Inbari is an astute analyst of rof Arab affairs and regional dynamics at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) in Israel. Periodically, we have published his analysis as it confounds conventional wisdom about the conflicts and actors in a multi-dimensional chess game of geo-politics in the region. Such is the case with his analysis of  the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) whose blitzkrieg has rent asunder the artificial map of both Iraq and the Middle East, “ISIS: Iran’s  Instrument for Regional Hegemony.” A Middle East map whose origins can be found in the secret Sykes Picot agreement of 1915 reflected in the Post World War I Mandates of the League of Nations dividing up the former Ottoman Empire awarded  the French and British at the San Remo Conference in 1920.  The Iraq that arose from the British Mandate was an amalgamation of former Ottoman Empire vilayets encompassing restive Kurds, Sunnis and Shia and minority Assyrian Chaldean Christians, Turkmen and Jews.  The latter were driven out after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

Inbari presents evidence to support a thesis that ISIS is really a creation of the Syrian Mukhabarat (Intelligence) and Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence with the dual purposes of  defeating the  rebel opposition in Syria and forcing the breakup of  Iraq. His key points are:

  • Immediately after ISIS emerged in Syria, sources in the Syrian opposition said, “We are familiar with the commanders of ISIS. Once they belonged to Assad’s intelligence, and now they are operating on his behalf under the name of ISIS.”
  • Why would Shiite Iran support a Sunni jihadist organization like ISIS? Iran wants to be certain that a strong Iraqi state does not emerge again along its western border.
  • The notion that Shiite Iran would help Sunni jihadists was not farfetched, even if it seemed to defy the conventional wisdom in Western capitals.
  •  It is unreasonable to expect Iran to fight ISIS. If Iran does so, it would be turning against a movement that has been a useful surrogate for Tehran’s interests.

Thus, to replace Iraq, Iran would use ISIS to forge a new alignment and map. There would be three sectarian entities, Kurdistan, a  southern Shia satrapy of Iran  encompassing  the holy sites of Karbala and Najif, Baghdad and Basra, as well as  a rump Sunni state comprised of the central and  western provinces.  Inbari’s analysis may explain why the Obama Administration has temporized about committing military assets in the Gulf region in support of the faltering Maliki regime in Baghdad. Moreover, the Administration does not wish to upset its outreach to Iran, especially with regard to the current round of nuclear discussions, while seemingly rejected the Islamic regime’s offer to assist in quelling the turmoil caused by the ISIS blitzkrieg in Iraq.

Inbari presents confirmation in the upending of the official Al Qaeda opposition in Syria, the Al Nusrah Front, and the ISIS siege in Deir al Zour that appears directed at destroying the Free Syrian Army and Islamic Front rebel opposition to the Assad regime.  Inbari presents similar views of prominent Gulf region media analysts corroborating his thesis. Further, he points out the existence of a cache of intelligence on the leaders of ISIS found in digital memory sticks obtained by Iraqi intelligence during the battle for Mosul in northern Iraq.

Inbari’s proposition would fit the Twelver Shia conception of creating turmoil to bring about the return of moribund twelfth Imam to lead the conquest of the Dar al Harb under the Islamic regime’s hegemony ruled under Sharia, Islamic law.  Hence the rise of a Caliphate under the ISIS banner bestride Syria and current day Iraq would fit the Shia theology.

The fact that Sunni supremacist ISIS is leading the charge for creation of a Caliphate under Sharia in the Middle East, as Inbari points, is entirely consistent with Iran’s behavior in the run up to 9/11.  Iranian Intelligence with the aid of the late Hezbollah terrorist mastermind Imad Mughniyeh facilitated the training and transportation of the 19 Egyptian, Saudi and Yemeni perpetrators of 9/11 Islamic terror attack in lower Manhattan, Southwestern Pennsylvania and  at the  Pentagon in northern Virginia,. The evidence of that was revealed in the New York Federal District Court “9/11 Iran Links Case”.

downloadThere is more to support Inbari’s thesis in a new book to be published next week by Ken Timmerman, Dark Forces: The Truth About What Happened in Benghazi:

  • The group that took credit for the Benghazi attack, Ansar al Sharia, was trained and equipped by the Quds Force.
  • Both the CIA and US Delta and Special Operations Forces in Tripoli were actively monitoring Iranian operations in Benghazi, and warned their chain of command- including the late US Ambassador Stevens- that the Iranian were preparing a terrorist attack on the U.S. Compound in Benghazi.

Timmerman further notes that the Obama Administration supplied weapons to fight Qaddafi in Libya and Assad in Syria knowing that many rebel leaders were Al Qaeda operatives.  Moreover that Qatar was deeply involved both funding and transporting these weapons and the diffusion of MANPADS throughout North Africa, the Middle East and even Afghanistan.

Timmerman, in an email to this writer, commented that he  found  “curious” the timing this week of  the seizure of Ahmed Abu Khattala on the streets in Benghazi, Libya  by US special forces with the aid of the FBI.   Khatltala was a leader of Ansar al Shariah attack on the Benghazi Legation on 9/11/12.  He hid in plain sight for past nearly two years, as Timmerman notes in his new book.  He even gave interviews to the media.  Reports in the media tells of his telling the history of the terrorist group while slow steaming on the USS New York towards the US for possible detention and prosecution following his interrogation.  The irony is that the US navy vessel was built from the debris of the twin towers of the World Trade Center destroyed on 9/11 that Iran facilitated.

We will review Timmerman’s new book in the July NER.  This weekend we will be interviewing both Timmerman, and Daniel Diker, a colleague of Inbari at the JCPA, on The Lisa Benson Show on Sunday on KKNT960 at 4PM EDT in the US.

Inbari’s analysis of ISIS as the instrument of Iran Hegemony in the Middle East is both fascinating and timely.

Also see:

Turkish Support for ISIS

by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
June 18, 2014

N.B. Washington Times title: “Turkey’s support for ISIS Islamist terrorists. Aiding jihadists could put Ankara at odds with Iran”

The battle in Iraq consists of “Turkish-backed Sunni jihadis rebelling against an Iranian-backed Shi’ite-oriented central government,” I wrote in a recent article.

Some readers question that the Republic of Turkey has supported the “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” the main Sunni group fighting in Iraq. They point to ISIS attacks on Turkish interests, within Turkey, along itsborder with Syria, and in Mosul and a successful recent meeting of the Turkish and Iranian presidents. Good points, but they can be explained.

First, ISIS is willing to accept Turkish support even while seeing the Islamist prime minister and his countrymen as kafirs (infidels) who need to be shown true Islam.

Second, the presidential visit took place on one level while the fighting in Syria and Iraq took place on quite another; the two can occur simultaneously. Turkish-Iranian rivalry is on the rise and, as the distinguished Turkish journalist Burak Bekdil notes in the current issue of the Middle East Quarterly:

Recent years have often seen official language from the two countries about prospering bilateral trade and common anti-Israeli ideological solidarity. But mostly out of sight have been indications of rivalry, distrust, and mutual sectarian suspicion between the two Muslim countries.

Ankara may deny helping ISIS, but the evidence for this is overwhelming. “As we have the longest border with Syria,” writes Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a Turkish newspaper columnist, “Turkey’s support was vital for the jihadists in getting in and out of the country.” Indeed, the ISIS strongholds not coincidentally cluster close to Turkey’s frontiers.

Kurds, academic experts and the Syrian opposition agree that Syrians, Turks (estimated to number 3,000), and foreign fighters (especially Saudis but also a fair number of Westerners) have crossed the Turkish-Syrian border at will, often to join ISIS. What Turkish journalist Kadri Gursel calls a “two-way jihadist highway,” has no bothersome border checks and sometimes involves the active assistance of Turkish intelligence services. CNN even broadcast a video on “The secret jihadi smuggling route through Turkey.”

Actually, the Turks offered far more than an easy border crossing: they provided the bulk of ISIS’ funds, logistics, training and arms. Turkish residents near the Syrian border tell of Turkish ambulances going to Kurdish-ISIS battle zones and then evacuating ISIS casualties to Turkish hospitals. Indeed, a sensational photograph has surfaced showing ISIS commander Abu Muhammad in a hospital bed receiving treatment for battle wounds in Hatay State Hospital in April 2014.

 

Abu Muhammad of ISIS in Hatay State Hospital in April 2014, recovering from wounds received fighting in Syria.

One Turkish opposition politician estimates that Turkey has paid $800 million to ISIS for oil shipments. Another politician released information about active duty Turkish soldiers training ISIS members. Critics note that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has met three times with someone, Yasin al-Qadi, who has close ties to ISIS and has funded it.

 

The flag of Rojava, or Syria Kurdistan.

Why the Turkish support for wild-eyed extremists? Because Ankara wants to eliminate two Syrian polities, the Assad regime in Damascus and Rojava (the emerging Kurdish state) in the northeast.

Regarding the Assad regime: “Thinking that jihadists would ensure a quick fall for the Assad regime in Syria, Turkey, no matter how vehemently officials deny it, supported the jihadists,” writes Cengiz, “at first along with Western and some Arab countries and later in spite of their warnings.”

Regarding Rojava: Rojava’s leadership being aligned with the PKK, the (formerly) terrorist Kurdish group based in Turkey, the authoritative Turkish journalist Amberin Zaman has little doubt “that until recently, Turkey was allowing jihadist fighters to move unhindered across its borders” to fight the Kurds.

More broadly, as the Turkish analyst Mustafa Akyol notes, Ankara thought “anybody who fought al-Assad was a good guy and also harbored an “ideological uneasiness with accepting that Islamists can do terrible things.” This has led, he acknowledges, to “some blindness” toward violent jihadists. Indeed, ISIS is so popular in Turkey that others publicly copy its logo.

 

An Istanbul-based charity (acronym: HİSADER) has adopted the ISIS logo with the Islamic statement of faith.

In the face of this support, the online newspaper Al-Monitor calls on Turkey to close its border to ISIS while Rojava threatened Ankara with “dire consequences” unless Turkish aid ceases.

In conclusion, Turkish leaders are finding Syria a double quagmire, what with Assad still in power and the Kurdish entity growing stronger. In reaction, they have cooperated with even the most extreme, retrograde and vicious elements, such as ISIS. But this support opened a second front in Iraq which, in turn, brings the clash of the Middle East’s two titans, Turkey and Iran, closer to realization.

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2014 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

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Also see:

ISIL Moving Seized U.S. Tanks, Humvees to Syria

A captured Iraqi T-55 tank in Syria via ISIL social media

A captured Iraqi T-55 tank in Syria via ISIL social media

By Bill Gertz:

Syrian and Iraqi terrorist forces obtained significant numbers of tanks, trucks, and U.S.-origin Humvees in recent military operations in Iraq and those arms are being shipped to al Qaeda rebels in Syria, according to U.S. officials.

U.S. intelligence agencies reported this week that photos of the equipment transfers were posted online by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as ISIS, the ultra-violent terror group that broke away from al Qaeda but shares its goals and philosophy.

Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Bill Speaks confirmed the weapons transfers and expressed concerns about the captured arms.

“We’re aware of reports of some equipment—namely Humvees—and the pictures that have been posted online,” Speaks said in an email. “We are certainly concerned about these reports and are consulting with the Iraqi government to obtain solid confirmation on what assets may have fallen into ISIL’s hands.”

Speaks added that the loss of the equipment to the terrorist group is “really a matter for the Iraqi government to speak to publicly” because “it is their equipment.”

Exact numbers of captured arms and equipment are not known. The insurgents raided all the arms depots and vehicles belonging to Iraq’s Second Division, based in Mosul, which included a motorized brigade and several infantry brigades.

A defense official warned that ISIL claims that they have captured advanced weaponry, such as Blackhawk helicopters, are suspect.

“We do know that they made false claims last week, particularly with Blackhawk helicopters, which have never been sold to Iraq,” the official said.

U.S.-made Humvees enroute from Iraq to Syria via ISIL social media

U.S.-made Humvees enroute from Iraq to Syria via ISIL social media

The seized weapons are said to include Russian-made T-55 tanks and one report said U.S. M-1 Abrams tanks were taken. Numerous Humvees were shown on flatbed trucks being transported from the Nineveh province, in northwestern Iraq, to ISIL-controlled areas of Syria, including the Al Shadadi area and the town of Tall Hamis.

The ISIL notified people in the region where the tanks were seen to be alert for possible U.S. airstrikes, presumably against the captured weaponry.

One online posting by ISIL fighters showed a captured Iraqi T-55 tank reportedly in Deir ez-Zor, Syria.

Other online photos of captured Iraqi military equipment showed towed artillery, trucks, and troop transports being transferred to Syria from Iraq.

The weaponry is expected to provide ISIL with a major advantage over other rebel groups in Syria in their civil war with the forces of the Bashar al Assad regime in Damascus, as well as against other rival rebel groups, including the official al Qaeda affiliate, Al Nusra Front.

In a statement posted through its Twitter account, ISIL on June 12 provided a “field report” with photos of its capture of Iraqi weapons and conquests of Iraqi military outposts.

The weapons were taken from military bases on the border with Syria and moved to areas in Syria controlled by ISIL that the group is calling its “caliphate.”

One photo carried a caption in Arabic that read “Transferring the spoils to the Islamic State’s headquarters in Wilayah [territory under the Islamic caliphate] Al-Barakah” in the Al Hasakah province in northeastern Syria.

A U.S. official familiar with intelligence assessment of the ongoing conflict in Iraq said the ISIL has seized key cities, including Mosul and Tikrit, but is not expected to attempt a further drive to the capital of Baghdad, which is more heavily defended.

Read more at Free Beacon

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Published June 17, 2014 by Right Sightings:

On the road to Baghdad, ISIS had commandeered a vast array of weapons that now must be added to the list of deep concerns for those attempting to defend the city. Jessie Jane Duff, Gunnery Sergeant USMC (Ret.) joins FNC’s Harris Faulkner to define what the defenders must contend against in the days ahead.

ISIS-Not “Mafia Tactics”- Jihad

article-2656905-1EB8EF4200000578-71_964x532CSP, By Kyle Shideler:

An article in yesterday’s Foreign Policy discusses the self-funding tactics of the ISIS, as it continues to wage its brutal assault in Iraq. Author Yochi Dreazen begins his piece by stating:

When fighters from the Islamic State of Syria and al-Sham (ISIS) stole tens of millions of dollars from a bank in Mosul earlier this year, it wasn’t simply a startling symbol of the collapse of Baghdad’s control over Iraq’s second-largest city. The brazen theft was instead a stark illustration of one of the most alarming aspects of ISIS’s rise: the group’s growing ability to fund its own operations through bank heists, extortion, kidnappings, and other tactics more commonly associated with the mob than with violent Islamist extremists.

Unfortunately, far from being unassociated with “Islamic extremists”, the “mafia” practices of ISIS can be construed as in line with Shariah adherent practices regarding Jihad.

There is ample jurisprudence regarding the disposition of the spoils of war. For example,Reliance of the Traveller by Ahmad ibn Naqib Al-Misri, which includes legal rulings for both the personal booty of fighters who have slain an enemy and may take what he possessed for themselves (Book O. Justice, O.10.2) and for the collective use of spoils of war in order to pay for items of importance for the cause of the Islamic state such as, “fortify[ing] defense on the frontiers, salaries for Islamic judges, muezzins, and the like:” (Book 0. Justice 0.10.3)

Likewise, the apparent surprise shown by some experts of “violent extremism” when ISIS does indeed spend substantial money and manpower on just these sorts of governance projects is a result of the general failure to comprehend how jihadist groups abide by Shariah obligations.

Returning to “Mafia” tactics, is kidnapping for ransom is absolutely permitted under the Shariah during jihad. Al-Misri notes (Book 0 Justice O.9.14),

“When an adult male is taken captive, the caliph considers the interests and decides between the prisoner’s death, slavery, release without paying anything or ransoming himself in exchange for money or for a Muslim captive held by the enemy.” (Emphasis added.)

There are likewise legal rulings that would support what could be viewed as the extortion of money, especially from Non-Muslims in the form of the mandatory jizya tax. Even extortion of funds from Muslims may be justified by ISIS, since money to support fighters of Jihad is a legitimate allocation for Zakat (mandatory tithing). Given that ISIS purports to be the legitimate Islamic rulers of the territory they hold, their collecting these funds would reasonably be expected. Obviously, for those who do not uphold ISIS’s status as a legitimate Islamic state, these demands would be seen as little more then theft.

Nor is extortion from other Muslims  to fund terrorist activities rare, or limited solely to Sunni Islamists. Hezbollah is well known for engaging in extortion of Lebanese Shia abroad in order to finance its efforts.

Far from being divorced from the belief system which ISIS seeks to impose, such acts as bank robbery, kidnapping and extortion can be legal justified in the furtherance of their jihad.

Second Front Opens in the Sunni-Shia War

A Syrian soldier manning a checkpoint near Damascus

A Syrian soldier manning a checkpoint near Damascus

BY JONATHAN SPYER:

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) organization swept into the city of Mosul in western Iraq last week.  No one has any right to be surprised. ‬

ISIL has held a large swath of western Iraq since January – including the city of Fallujah.  The organization was clearly planning a larger scale offensive action into Iraq. ‬

In January it had carried out a strategic withdrawal from large swaths of Idleb and Aleppo provinces in Syria. This was intended to consolidate its lines in northern Syria, so as to move fighters out toward Iraq.  ISIL controls a contiguous bloc of territory stretching from western Iraq up through eastern and northern Syria to the Turkish border. ‬

Its “Islamic State” is already an existing, if precarious fact, no longer a mere aspiration.  So, like a state at war, it moves its forces to the front where they are most needed‬.

The rapid collapse of Nouri al-Maliki’s garrison in Mosul in the face of the ISIL assault should also come as no surprise.  These forces are hollow. ‬

Saddam Hussein maintained a huge army by coercion. Shirkers and deserters could expect to be executed. But Maliki’s army consists of poorly paid conscripts and often corrupt officers.  The Shia among them in Mosul saw no reason to fight and die for what seemed to them to be Sunni, alien territory.  Sunni officers among the garrison, meanwhile, may well have been working with ISIL itself or with one of the other Sunni Islamist or nationalist formations fighting alongside them. ‬

So what will happen now?  The pattern of developing events is already clear, and much may be learned from the experience of Syria. ‬

Bashar Assad, when rebellion broke out against him in March 2011, sought to use his huge conscript army to crush it.  But the Syrian dictator rapidly found out that his supposedly 295,000-strong army was largely a fiction.  Sunni conscripts refused to engage against the rebels, and Bashar was able to make use only of certain units composed largely of members of his own Alawi sect — units such as the Republican Guard and the 4th Armored Division. ‬

How did Assad address this problem? The answer is that he didn’t — Iran did. ‬

Realizing that their Syrian ally was facing defeat because of an absence of reliable manpower, the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps stepped in to effectively create a new, sectarian military for the Assads.  In addition, Iran introduced its various regional paramilitary proxies into the Syrian battlefield. ‬

By mid-2013, the new, sectarian infantry force trained by the Quds Force and Hizballah – named the National Defense Force – was beginning to be deployed against the Syrian rebellion.  In addition, Hizballah, and Iraqi Shia volunteers of Sadrist and other loyalties began to fill the gaps in manpower for Assad. ‬

These units turned the tide of the Syrian war.  But they have brought Assad survival, not victory.  The dictator rules over only about 40% of the territory of what was once Syria.  The rest is under the control of ISIL, the Kurds, and the Sunni Arab rebels.

Read more at Gloria Center